What Is Lumbar Fusion?
Lumbar fusion is a type of surgery that is also called spondylodesis. It is a neurosurgical technique that involves joining at least two vertebrae together. After the surgery, the fused discs of the spine will move together instead of acting like separate discs. This surgery is called lumbar fusion because it is done along the lumbar region of the spine. The lumbar spine is the lower part of the back where it curves towards your abdomen, and it is particularly prone to getting damaged.
What Diagnoses Require Lumbar Fusion?
Lumbar fusion is generally done to make the spine more stable. It can ensure that spinal discs are not slipping and putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves along the spinal cord. The path to diagnosis for a patient who needs lumbar fusion typically starts when a person visits the doctor for back pain. The doctor will perform various tests and eventually diagnose a patient with a spine condition. You may try some other treatments first, but if they do not alleviate the issue, the doctor may suggest a spinal fusion.
Diagnoses that may require a spinal fusion include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal tumors
- Back fractures
- Spinal disc herniation
What Happens During Lumbar Fusion Treatment?
Lumbar fusion is a surgery that will involve general anesthetic. Depending on your unique situation, the doctor may access your spine from an incision along the front, side, or back. Typically, only two vertebral segments will be fused, but some patients with lumbar deformities may need more fusions during the treatment. Lumbar fusion will graft a small piece of bone material between the vertebrae to fuse them together. Some patients may also need additional grafts to stabilize the vertebrae further. Your bone graft may be harvested from your own hip, a donation from a bone bank, or an artificial material of ceramic or calcium. To keep the spine still during recovery, the surgeon may include some metal screws or rods.
What Is the Treatment Recovery Process?
Recovery for a lumbar fusion will require a lot of time for the bone grafts to become solid and fuse with the vertebrae. Most people need painkillers at first, but pain will typically cease about four weeks after the surgery. During your recovery, you will need physical therapy to keep your spine correctly aligned. You may need to wear a back brace for up to three months, and it may be six weeks before you can start doing short walks and more strenuous activity. Complete recovery normally takes about eight months, and patients need to keep exercising to get a healthy back.
Why Should You Choose Treasure Valley Hospital For the Surgery?
Treasure Valley Hospital is the number one physician-owned hospital in Idaho, so you can be confident that you are getting the best treatment possible during your spinal fusion. After getting assistance from our talented surgical team, our recovery and post-anesthesia care unit will assist you in recovering from your lumbar fusion. If your doctor recommends an overnight stay at TVH, you will receive top-notch personalized care from our experienced Inpatient Unit nurses and superb, made-to-order food from our cafeteria. Before being discharged, you will meet with a physical therapist to discuss the best way to move your body during the recovery process.
How do I prepare for this type of surgery?
This information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.
- Your doctor or pre-admission nurse may tell you to stop taking certain medications, vitamins and dietary supplements prior to your surgery.
- Do not eat anything after midnight the day before surgery.
- Shower or bathe the morning of your surgery according to directions given at your pre-admission appointment.
- Do not shave the surgical area prior to arriving at the hospital for your procedure.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and slip-on shoes.
- Do not wear makeup, perfume/aftershave, lotion, or deodorant.
- Do not wear jewelry.
- Leave all valuables at home.
- If you wear contact lenses, bring an appropriate storage container for them and a pair of glasses to use pre- and post-surgery.
- Bring these supplies if they apply to you:
- Rescue Inhaler
- Dental Device
- Arrange ahead of time for a family member or friend to drive you home from the hospital after surgery.